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Smoking Costs Canadian Economy More Than $16 Billion In 2012

Ottawa, October 16, 2017— Tobacco use cost the Canadian economy $16.2 billion in direct and indirect expenses such as health care, fire damage, tobacco control and law enforcement activities, and lost production in 2012, according to a new report from The Conference Board of Canada.

“Tobacco use is one of the leading causes of preventable deaths and illnesses worldwide and, while much progress has been made to control it in Canada, millions of Canadians continue to smoke,” said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Industry Strategy and Public Policy. “With an estimated 125 deaths from smoking in Canada each day, it is important for us to understand the costs imposed on the health care system and to society when Canadians continue to smoke.”


  • Approximately 45,500 deaths were attributable to smoking in Canada in 2012. This translates to about 125 deaths each day in Canada—more than the total number of deaths due to car collisions, accidental injuries, and assaults.
  • The total costs of tobacco use in Canada were $16.2 billion in 2012.
  • Health care costs attributable to smoking in Canada were estimated to be more than $6.5 billion in 2012. Indirect costs due to lost production amounted to $9.5 billion.

According to our report, approximately 45,500 deaths were attributable to smoking in Canada in 2012, including nearly 1,000 deaths from exposure to second-hand smoke. This figure is up from the more than 37,000 deaths attributable to smoking a decade ago. Cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and respiratory diseases were the leading causes of smoking-related deaths.

The direct and indirect costs of tobacco use in Canada were $16.2 billion in 2012. The total direct health care cost attributable to smoking is estimated at around $6.5 billion in Canada in 2012. This included the costs associated with hospital care ($3.8 billion), prescription drugs ($1.7 billion), and physician care ($1.0 billion). Meanwhile, other direct costs such as fire damage, tobacco research and prevention, and federal, provincial, and territorial tobacco control and law enforcement activities totalled nearly $207.1 million.

Indirect expenses make up the majority (58.5 per cent) of the total cost of smoking. This includes approximately $9.5 billion in forgone earnings as a result of smoking-attributable premature deaths and illnesses. Almost $2.5 billion were associated with premature mortality and about $7.0 billion were a result of short- and long-term disability.

Based on the latest Government of Canada’s Canadian Tobacco, Alcohol and Drugs Survey, more than 3.9 million Canadians were smokers in 2015, including 2.8 million who reported smoking daily. Youth continue to experiment with tobacco, as almost one-fifth of grades 6 to 12 students had tried smoking a cigarette in 2014–15.

The report, The Costs of Tobacco Use in Canada, 2012, was prepared for the Tobacco Control Directorate, Health Canada and is publicly available from our e-Library.

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